Central Oregon Symphony holds first live concert in nearly 2 years

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On Sunday, the music of Mozart, Wagner and Strauss paid a visit to the Bend High School auditorium through the skillful hands of the Central Oregon Symphony.

The shows at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. were the symphony’s first live performances since February of 2020.

“I walked out onstage and I’m like oh my gosh, I’m going to choke up,” Conductor Michael Gesme said. “This is all I’ve done my whole life, and to not do it for awhile is…I miss that.”

The symphony normally holds three weekend-long groups of performances a year, for roughly 2,000 audience members each time.

Between the two performances on Sunday, around 700 and 800 people attended, with another several hundred tuning in via livestream at 2 p.m.

Tickets were limited intentionally to allow for social distancing.

“That’s not our norm, but to have 700, 800 people come listen to a concert just makes my heart happy,” Gesme said.

The size of the orchestra was also limited from around 70 people to only 40.

Both shows were only 45 minutes instead of the usual two hours, without any intermission.

“To go all that time without a live performance, it’s a challenge because the performance is what you’re working towards, and even though I love rehearsals…if you don’t have that goal sitting out in front of you, it’s kind of dispiriting,” Gesme said.

“And so to have a goal, everybody just really rallied around that this evening. It’s super cool!”

The symphony plans to hold performances in February and May on their usual schedule.

“We hope that with each one of those we can grow the orchestra, we can grow the amount of people that we’re able to let into the hall,” Gesme said. “We’re excited for the future, it’s just nice to get started again.”

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